rethinking why performance matters through the matter of performance
3. Potentials of Performance

30 May 2012

Introducing The O Show


The O Show will raise your energy, lower your blood pressure and occasionally make you laugh. In short, it’s a whole 45 minutes to an hour of pure possibility!

 Creative practitioners will share their work, their life stories and their coping mechanisms for dealing with life’s obstacles. As life coach Barbara DeAngelis once said: “We teach what we need to learn.” For those viewers whose cup of joy runneth over, many of the techniques illuminated by these professionals can be employed towards achieving ever increasing happiness, self-actualisation and creative productivity. At the very least, The O Show provides an opportunity to debate whether or not happiness should be anyone’s ultimate goal. Whatever Oriana’s findings turn out to be, you can be a part of it! Join The O Show community and make a commitment to personal and political transformation!


   The premise of The O Show is that artists have a lot on their plate – whether it’s their larger-than-life passions, psychological neuroses or the challenges inherent in the bohemian lifestyle – many of them find creativity to be the only respite. If my guests can find contentment, or at least enjoy themselves in the process of striving towards it, so can my viewers! Not only do artists come on my show to reveal their creative coping strategies and provide helpful tips for viewers at home, they sometimes appear as guests because they are struggling to overcome an issue or a difficult experience. In that case, they receive expert guidance from The O Show’s staff psychologist (my mother).

   In one particular episode, the performer Scottee came on the show to discuss his fear of academia, a condition that we hoped to help cure. However, his session with my mother left him with the newfound understanding that his emotional response to all things scholarly was not in fact a phobia but a perfectly fitting and healthy reaction to a lifetime of exclusion from that realm. The conversation between my mother and Scottee made it clear that performance had rescued him, giving him an outlet to explore his identity and emotions after being expelled from school at the age of 14. In other words, in addition to a successful career as a performer (and one that earned him the attention and appreciation of academia), Scottee also had a strategy to communicate his anger, but just needed help recognising that for what it was. It became apparent that he was yet another example of an artist who was already benefitting from his creativity and using it to lead a fulfilling life.


(If the video does not play, click here)


   The question remains, will Scottee behave differently now as a result of his insight into why he feels and acts so dismissively and at times fearfully toward the academy? My mother suggested that it would be worthwhile for him to capitalise on the invitations to perform within various educational institutions as an opportunity to critique them. But is continuing to treat academia with bile (in order to work through his feelings of anger and loss) the only way forward for Scottee?

   Despite the fact that Scottee’s circumstances are quite particular and in many ways exceptional, there is a wider relevance to his story that the show brought to the fore. At the end of his conversation with my mother, I asked her to provide advice to people who share Scottee’s feelings of depression, insecurity and anxiety about not being ‘smart enough’. In helping Scottee to incorporate accolades from the academic community into his self-image, the show hopefully will encourage others not to dismiss as a fluke whatever recognition and affirmation they might receive. So perhaps another way Scottee might be affected by this experience is to see himself as a valid contributor within educational settings in a new way, not just as a critical voice, but as a collaborator and an ally: perhaps in this way his behaviour towards academics, as well as his work in the scholarly realm, might also change? Other key questions are whether or not he would welcome such a transformation and if his new (and perhaps less biting) work would continue to be lauded within scholarly circles.

On the following episode, video artist Krystyn Lovelace came on The O Show with the perennial problem: heartache. I wanted to help her get over her recent breakup and enable her to turn the experience into fodder for yet more autobiographical performances to camera. My mother’s advice to Krystyn was to take this opportunity to reassess what she was looking for in a partner and to list a few key qualities that she would focus on every morning when she woke up and every evening before she went to bed. Krystyn remarked that because of her personality she could only do that as a kind of performance. It was at that point that I interjected and insisted that making it into a performance was a perfectly valid approach. ‘Fake it till you make it’, I exclaimed! I said this not only because I was hoping to find a way to connect her recovery back to her work as an artist, but also because I recognise the therapeutic potential of performance. While my mother’s method of analysis and the advice she gave wasn’t strictly speaking ‘rational emotive behavioural therapy’, the idea that a person can actively contest their self-inhibiting irrational beliefs by acting differently, or by faking it, is crucial to its methodology. By pretending to be the woman who won’t settle for anyone who doesn’t meet her set of standards, Krystyn might actually become that woman and finally find the love she deserves.



(If the video does not play, click here)  

   These two previous episodes touch upon themes that will be more explicitly explored in ‘On the Couch’, The O Show’s ‘Potentials of Performance’ special edition. In particular, we will investigate how performance provides a means for expressing and working through destructive or painful emotions; the role of insight in self-transformation; and the solution-focused and performance-based practices of cognitive and rational emotive behavioural therapy.



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